Turns out money actually can buy happiness, according to scientists from Harvard University and the University of British Columbia.
A study published Monday found that both rich and poor alike could significantly improve their happiness by purchasing more free time, which is directly linked to greater happiness.
“We show that working adults report greater happiness after spending money on a time-saving purchase than on a material purchase,” the researchers wrote in their study. “This research reveals a previously unexamined route from wealth to well-being: spending money to buy free time.”
Researchers surveyed 4,500 people from the U.S., Canada, Denmark and the Netherlands, asking if respondents paid other people to do “unenjoyable daily tasks” in order to “increase their free time.” Roughly 28 percent of respondents replied “yes,” spending an average of $148 per month to purchase extra time.
Those who spent more on free time reported much higher levels of life satisfaction than their counterparts who didn’t.
Spending money to buy more time was directly linked to lower levels of “time stress,” which can cause lower happiness levels.
Researchers confirmed this by giving volunteers $40 dollars to spend on two consecutive weekends. During the first weekend, volunteers were asked to spend the cash on a material purchase, and during the second they were asked to invest in something that would save them time.
The volunteers reported more positive feelings and fewer negative feelings the weekend they bought themselves more time, essentially buying happiness.
“People across the income spectrum benefited from buying time,” states a Los Angles Times summary of the research. “Making a time-saving purchase caused improvements in daily mood. Improvements in daily mood should promote greater life satisfaction.”
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published the study.
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